Olympic curling: Fourth-place finish for Team Shuster in Beijing
The placing matches the third-best finish by an American rink in seven Olympic appearances.
BEIJING — A second consecutive Olympic medal was not in the cards for Team Shuster on Friday, as Canada outplayed the American rink down the stretch of the bronze medal game at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, winning 8-5.
The team of John Shuster (Superior), Chris Plys (Duluth), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wisconsin) and John Landsteiner (Duluth) matched the fate of the first American Olympic curling team, Tim Somerville's 1998 rink, which lost to Norway for the bronze medal in Nagano, Japan. Fourth place is tied for third-best among the seven American Olympic entries since the sport returned to the Olympic program and is third-best of the five Olympic teams Shuster has played on.
Momentum appeared to be in the Americans' hands at the halfway point after Canada failed to blank the fifth end. Canadian skip Brad Gushue's last rock of the end hit an American stone and stayed in the rings, so instead of retaining the last-shot advantage, Canada got a less-than-desirable single point for a 4-3 lead and gave Team USA a tactical edge.
The Americans took the lead, 5-4, in the sixth, but Canada was able to successfully blank the sixth end and improve its overall position. In the seventh, Canada had a shot for a 3 and settled for 2, but that turned out to be the final lead change. Shuster and team gave up a steal of 2 in the ninth end and could not amass the necessary rocks in the rings to mount a desperate comeback attempt.
Sweden and Great Britain will contest the gold-medal match on Saturday afternoon (just after midnight Saturday morning in the Central Time Zone).
In the semifinal on Thursday, the United States lost 8-4 after a tactical decision to blank several ends in the second half of the game in search of a big scoring haul never paid off.
Great Britain led 5-4 after five ends, but the United States chose to hold on to the hammer rather than settle for a single point, resulting in no scoring in ends six, seven or eight. In the ninth, skip Bruce Mouat put his last stone in an immovable position in the middle of the house, and Shuster opted to surrender a point to regain the tactical advantage for the 10th and final end.
The Americans, down 6-4, were unable to assemble a good scoring opportunity, leaving Shuster's last chance to tie the game a tough ask. It resulted in two British points and guaranteed the Americans would not repeat as Olympic champions, something only Canada has done.